STORY: Farm and land practices helping clean up waterways

Poor water quality has forced closure of public waters to recreation and fishing in Kansas. But thanks to the efforts of Kansas researchers and extension professionals, water supplies are becoming cleaner.

Researchers have shown that planting winter cover crops on farmland reduces phosphorus and sediment loss in runoff by more than 50%. Increased plantings of cover crops improves water quality in streams, rivers and lakes throughout the state.

Training programs and consultations are helping landowners and managers to reduce nutrients and silt entering waterways. Farmers are implementing best management plans affecting almost 30,000 acres annually. Best practices include conservation crop rotations, no-till plantings and herbicide management. Assessments show nutrient reductions of more than 373,000 pounds of nitrogen and about 139,000 pounds of phosphorus per year.